About the PBO

What we do

The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) was established in 2012 to ‘inform the Parliament by providing independent and non-partisan analysis of the budget cycle, fiscal policy and the financial implications of proposals’  (Section 64B of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999).

We do this in three main ways:

  • by responding to requests made by Senators and Members for costings of policy proposals or for analysis of matters relating to the budget
  • by publishing a report after every election that provides transparency around the fiscal impact of the election commitments of major parties, and
  • by conducting and publishing research that enhances the public understanding of the budget and fiscal policy settings.

Costings and budget analysis

The PBO provides all parliamentarians with access to advice on the estimated financial implications, or ‘cost’, of their policy proposals. We are also available to provide broader analysis of the Budget. This helps to level the playing field by providing access to costing and other analytical services that, in the absence of the PBO, would normally be exclusively available to the Government. We do not provide policy advice on the merits or feasibility of proposals.

To commence a fiscal analysis of a policy proposal, we need to receive a request for advice from a parliamentarian. This request needs to include a detailed specification of the policy proposal including the key design elements of the policy and start dates. We then independently determine the most appropriate modelling methodology, data and assumptions (including around behavioural responses) to use to estimate the fiscal cost of the policy proposal, using our best professional judgement.

In the written costing response we provide to the parliamentarian, we provide an estimate of the fiscal cost of the policy proposal over the next 10 years and we outline the methodology, data and assumptions we have used. We also discuss the key sources of uncertainty associated with the costing. If requested, we can sometimes provide distributional analysis of the impact of the policy proposal, depending upon the availability of data and appropriate models.

Most of the costing advice we provide to parliamentarians is confidential, and it is up to the parliamentarian to release any information from the costing response. Costing responses prepared by the PBO that have been made public by their requester are published on our website.

For further information on costings, see the following PBO information papers:

Election commitments

After each election, the PBO publishes a report that shows the budget implications of the election commitments made by each of the major parties. This report shows the fiscal cost of each individual commitment and the aggregate impact of the commitments taken together.

The purpose of this report it to provide transparency around the fiscal impact of election commitments and to help ensure that fiscal impacts are considered as party’s election platforms are developed. From the next general election, this report will include the medium-term (10 year) impact of all election commitments and minor parties will be able to have their commitments included in the report if they so choose.

During the caretaker period for a general election, the PBO may receive requests for policy costings from any parliamentary parties. Our legislation requires us to publish these requests, to complete the response to these requests as soon as is practical and to publish our responses.

Research reports

The PBO also publishes research reports and analysis that help to inform policy debate on broader issues that affect the sustainability of the budget over the medium term. These include reports on specific policy areas, analysis of the medium-term pressures affecting the budget and chart packs presenting key budget information in a more readily accessible format.

Our research program priorities for the coming year are outlined in our annual corporate plan.

Visit our Research reports to learn more about publications issued as part of our research program.


PO Box 6010
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

02 6277 9500

pbo@pbo.gov.au

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